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lowlifebware 2010-11-01 00:28

The Official Combinator V4 wishlist

Hey folks,

Hope y'all are enjoying Halloween and looking forward to the inevitable deadly cold weather that it heralds.

Recently on the Reason 5 upgrade we saw the unveiling of Combinator V3.0, including some really cool new stuff such as hierarchical programming menus, direct CV inputs, and various "under the hood" improvements that not too many of us really understand but clap heartily for because of the differences in performance.

Anyway it's nice and early, so I thought the idea of a unified suggestion thread for the next version of the Combinator might get more focused thinking, and help get some community developed ideas in to the mix in time to have a chance of making it for the next upgrade.

Please have some respect for the forum rules here, and remember that this is a "feature suggestion" thread, not a "feature demand" or indeed a "bitch that this feature hasn't been there since 1975 when every other synth started having it" thread. Bear in mind that the nexy R+R upgrade is probably at least a year away, so don't be thinking that this is necessarily going to get anything in to the next update, but as it's nice and early there is a chance that some ideas get picked up as fair warning has been given. Obviously if this thread hangs around like the "MIDI-out" goliath, then any new ideas that come in a year from now will not have that same opportuniy, so get thinking and suggesting.

Also when adding suggestions, please remember that the more clearer the picture you paint, the easier it is for the Props themselves to get what you're talking about, so just picture some guy in an office in Sweden looking at the post and going "ooh, this guy needs a 'hyper-stratocastic-grain-smashing-reverb-tuner', fantastic, shame I haven't the slightest f**king clue what he's talking about, NEXT!".

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Ok, me to start then:

1) Multi-Combinator "PatchSets" - I'm very much interested in the idea of a new patch-type that doesn't need to affect backwards compatibility, so with regards to preserving the current structure and still progressing, I would like to see a "Patch-Set" feature that allows essentially for a full .rns if needs be, to be loaded from the browser.

To define a bit: This came to me as a way of making progressively more and more complex modular synths in Reason/Record. One of the issues that occurs is that if you wish to make a really complex synth that spans a few combinators and has external Matrix' and effects etc. then you come to a serious issue when you then wish to reimport that set-up into a new file. To simplify this idea, lets say you pick one Piano type combinator, then hook three fx combi's in series and one in parallel, with a mixer at the top to merge. Ok, this is simple enough to do, but when you get to the stage that you wish to use this set-up again, your options are kinda thin when it comes to redoing it. Best practice (that I know of) right now is to save the relevant devices into their own .rns file with a name that gives some clue to what it is, then save the file to a predesignated folder named "What if Moog and Frankenstein had started a band?" or some such sillyness.

This method has issues of course. For a start it's not a streamlined process to reintroduce it to a new file, you have to open an .rns, then copy/paste the devices over in to the new document. This takes more time of course but the larger issue to me is that each of these routing shenanigans comes with only one "patch", the one you imported it as, and it's then tweaky time for anyone who wants to alter this thing in any way. Think of it though, if you build a multi-combinator set-up, then the sound possibilities by tweaking it are mind-numbing, and lets say that over the course of your 5 Combi's there are 1 of each FX device, 1 Thor, 1 Sub, 1 Malstrom. Essentially this one synth set-up could be tweaked to have 1000 unique patches without having to really dig that deep. But to move around each set-up right now, you would have to save each patch for each individual device (the ones that allow patch-saving) into some very well prior-organised directory system, that would get a shafting everytime an upgrade comes along and wrecking-balls the directory structure.

So the Multi-Patch "PatchSet" would be a very simple and to my mind rather elegant solution. The implementation would be a reasonably simple design, the patch would contain all the routing info and settings for each device, and at the point of saving each patch, there would be an export wizard which allows you to govern which bit or bits get a sequencer track upon loading, and for the sake of sanity, this should have an "existing only" checkbox so that the original track specification is left untouched.

Ok, you got that/

2) More/Scrollable Routing Sources/destinations - I'll keep this one brief as it's already a much asked for feature, but I feel this is one that needs to be included in the discussion, although the fact that this is an old request that wasn't included in V3 suggests that there may be some technical limitation that's not obvious to the uninitiated. Quite simply, when programming a Combi, I have came across several instances where I run out of destinations on a single device, and then have to trim it down with various bits of corner-cutting. I agree with the limited tool-set philosophy, but I still feel that even just upping the limit per device from 10 to 15 or at most 20 would remove most peoples issues, others will still want it to be limitless but I think this would just lead to stagnation over making patches "perfect" and not actually get any work done.

Ok folks, now it's your turn to add some ideas and dig into mine for potential flaws.


JiggeryPokery 2010-11-01 02:20

<looks to camera smugly> Niiice!

1) An interesting notion. Probably highly complex to implement, but would be very nice to see some kind of stacked Combinator presets. Record in particular can be a bit of an arse when stacking multiple FX Combis. Often one selects the unit one wishes to connect to, but it decides to auto-route elsewhere.

2) Every version of Combinator gets better. It took many years just to get free access to the controller routing column. The next step for sure is a bit of scrollage, or maybe pagination would look more inkeeping with the current design.

3) The Knobs issue: as discussed elsewhere, I'm all for extra twiddly and pressy bits - and with hindsight Combi v1 should have had an 8/8 layout - but given that it is only 4/4, additional panel functions absolutely need to be an optional extra: either a new Combinator II unit (which could be a good fit with point 1) or a button on the back to select between the 4 knob classic, or an 8 knobbed supersized device. The former option makes more sense to me: back panel switches annoy the hell out of me (cf Matrix!)

lowlifebware 2010-11-01 05:47


Originally Posted by JiggeryPokery (Post 811783)
3) The Knobs issue: as discussed elsewhere, I'm all for extra twiddly and pressy bits - and with hindsight Combi v1 should have had an 8/8 layout - but given that it is only 4/4, additional panel functions absolutely need to be an optional extra: either a new Combinator II unit (which could be a good fit with point 1) or a button on the back to select between the 4 knob classic, or an 8 knobbed supersized device. The former option makes more sense to me: back panel switches annoy the hell out of me (cf Matrix!)

I think the current version was designed with a view to not having to get a bigger frontpage. Essentially the screen real-estate is getting low on the front panel, and thus the decision to do it as CV switches, either that or just a preference for keeping all connections on the back, which makes a lot of sense.

With regards to having more knobs and dials on the front, I like the idea, but I wonder if there is some tech reason behind it. Still the point behind this exercise is to have suggestions aplenty, so it's on the board, and if there is a tech reason behind it not being there then it's the Props who make that decision, we just give hints on what we fancy a bit of.


Koshdukai 2010-11-01 19:01

Currently, my only issue with the Combinator is
a) the amount of exposed controls (the 4+4 problem) and
b) the fixed amount of modulation entries.

To solve a) I'm ok with either:
a1) A modular approach to the exposed controls, where the default would be the standard 4rotaries+4buttons when initialized or loading an older .cmb patch file, but we could add more control "modules" to the "control rack", the one always exposed and visible even with the Combinator device rack closed.
The Combinator itself would have the new 4 CV inputs as fixed generic CV inputs, and all of these control modules would have their own CV in and CV out at the back. All would be capable of being ModRouted, like today, and these ModRouting could also break the expected 1:1 connection between the front control and its CV's at the back, so through ModRounting, we could make the control value independent from the CV being output or input (the default).

a2) Another option I've mentioned before already, and I've seen someone mention it again recently, would be to have "pages" or set's of 4+4, selectable also through Remote, both trough absolute and relative increment/decrement Remote controls.

I would like option a1) better. That would allow us to access, not only more rotaries and buttons, but also faders, drawbars, pads and multi-type buttons or pads, where we could select their behavior as momentary (only ON when pressed) or state type (like the existing ones, press once to turn ON, press again to turn OFF) and also, radio-type button group sets, where a group of buttons would have a radio-like behavior, allowing us to press any button in the group and only the last one pressed would be ON.

To solve problem b) well, that one's "easy", just add a scroll bar and allow more ModRouting entries.

I wouldn't mind to see a new Combinator-like device, more flexible, capable of all these features I described that could then be put inside a Standard Combinator... this would allow us to finally Combine Combinators, even if, for that, we would have to simply load an existing .cmb into the new device.

JiggeryPokery 2010-11-01 21:18

Oh and another thing!!

In our dream Combinator let's please get rid of the 36 note transpose limit. That little gem tripped me up today ;)

lowlifebware 2010-11-02 08:46

Apologies to EditEd4TV for suggesting the transpose limit to me on FB yesterday, but I didn't get round to posting it up!

a good suggestion though no matter who says it first.

Keep em coming chaps


colcifer 2010-11-02 09:43

1) Be able to contain mix channels/channel strips

2) Nest combinators

3) More rotaries and buttons. Also, sets of buttons that scroll.

4) Free candy

5) A feature that gets rid of all the weird, nonfunctional line mixers you find in the sound bank

eXode 2010-11-02 11:54

1. I have asked for a "master tune" knob to be added to each device. A workaround to this solution would be to have a "tune" feature in the combinator instead. The ability to tune each device individually inside a combi +/- 50 cents directly from the programmer would be awesome.

2. Polyphonic CV and audio within Reason, perhaps only within the combi. The ability to let all of Reason's instruments and samplers interact on a per voice basis would be absolutely awesome from a sound designers perspective.

Well my two ideas for now.

hydlide 2010-11-02 12:53

how about, copy/paste and remember 'programming from combinator'?

this is something that has bugging me ... a lot... I mean, if I have 3 thors (and I usually have at least... the minimum... usually... emphasize the word..usually.).

I setup one thor, and sometimes I 'program' the whole thing with them rotaties/buttons inside the combinator for that specific patch. But... sometimes I want to have a set of thors next to it that basically do the same thing, or... do the exact opposite.

The current workflow as this goes is as followed (bare with me, you'll have to read alot... but thats to emphasize my point of view on this matter):

- Create combinator
- Insert Mixer
- Create thor
- Open programmer
- Select Thor 1
- Select Filter 1 Freq for rotary 1
- Select filter 1 res for rotary 2
- select Delay on for button 1
- select Chorus on for button 2
- select Osc 2 pos for rotary 3
- select Osc 3 fm amount for rotary 4

So, in this setup I have 4 rotaries and 2 buttons programmed with each having one setting thats changed. Keep in mind that sometimes I change more setting at once under one button/rotary.

Next up, add Thor inside the combinator
- Copy patch / paste patch
- Select Thor 2
- Select Filter 1 Freq for rotary 1
- Select filter 1 res for rotary 2
- select Delay on for button 1
- select Chorus on for button 2
- select Osc 2 pos for rotary 3
- select Osc 3 fm amount for rotary 4

I think you get the point now.. I could tell you it took me 4 hours to make that '4op mode' thor setup using the combinator like that. and the only thing I was doing is telling what each knob/setting had to do. After hearing yet another few complaints about it, I realized I wasted about 4 hours of time and never looked at the science project again. But... imagine how much time would have been saved that if: you copy/paste the same device inside a combinator that it would move the programming along with it?

Koshdukai 2010-11-02 13:03

+1 glad you mentioned that one.

I almost forgot about something I keep wishing for when modrouting a lot of devices (this repetitive process is where I usually do dumb routing mistakes, btw)

...and, since we're talking about setting values, direct editing of values would also be nice to have at least on the combinator programmer section, if not globally on all value settings of Record & Reason, with the same behavior as the transport value fields (i.e. double-click to directly type/edit the value).

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